Reflection on Public Etiquettes (UQA Quran Institute)

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Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Allah Azza Wa Jall has made the city of Makkah a sanctified area, which means that certain acts that may or may not be allowed elsewhere, are not allowed inside this area. That’s why it is called haram. Things which are forbidden in it include cutting down of trees and even tearing leaves off trees.

As regards acts which are normally forbidden and sinful to do, performing these acts inside the Haram will leads to greater sin than elsewhere. On the contrary, Allah is the Most Merciful, and it is by His mercy that good deeds performed here are more rewarding than elsewhere.

Having said that, imagine some people pushing and shoving others, in order to get a space inside the masjid to pray, men touching and pushing women in order to be earlier in drinking Zamzam, throwing garbage on the blessed ground of Haram. And most astonishing of all, actually believing that all these they are allowed to do all these things!

In a place where it is a sin to tear a leaf from a tree, how can anyone imagine it’s not a sin to violate your brother’s honour, and vilify the sacred mosque? I don’t intend to criticize anyone. Really we’re all like that. We pray and we fast, we give zakah and we go for Hajj. But we forget that Islam means much more than praying and fasting.

There is another aspect of Islam, and in this aspect, many non-muslims are in fact better ‘muslims’ than we are. This is the aspect of humanity and nobility of manners, of respect and humility, not just towards Allah, but towards His creations.

When Allah was telling His angels that He was going to create a new creation, humans, the term that He used for ‘human’ was ‘Khalifah of the Earth’.

And when your Lord said to the angels, ‘Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority (khalifah).’ [2:30]

The job of a khalifah is to take care of everything which has been given under his care. Each one of us is a khalifah, and it’s duty, according to this ayah, to take care of this Earth. Why then are Muslims at the very back when it comes to voicing about global warming, about cutting down of trees, about depleting ozone layer, about extinction of wild animals, about the melting of the glaciers?

Why are Muslim areas some of the most corrupt, polluted and vilified areas in the world? Why are our roads full of garbage, and our garbage bins empty, if not non-existent? These are some of the points which every Muslim should reflect on.

The angels knew what we were going to do to this wonderful Earth of ours. They said, in the same ayah:

They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” [2:30]

And yet, Allah has hope in us, and He waits for us to take heed of His warnings, and truly fulfill our job as khalifah. He replied to the angels,

Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.” [2:30]

From my Hajj experience, I have come across the following acts many times, which I would like to remind myself and others to avoid.

Some bad deeds that we’re prone to do in a crowd:

  1. Pushing and shoving, and trying to overtake others unnecessarily.

A believer is bonded to another believer, and this bond is to be respected as much as we respect bonds of blood. Would we push and shove our brother/sister by blood in order to get a few feet ahead along the same way we’re both going? Would a brother shove and hurt our sister and violate her honour? Let us remember the following Prophetic saying:

None of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. [Tirmidhi]

  1. Throwing garbage on roads and public areas.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Be on your guard against two things which provoke cursing. They (the companions present there) said: Messenger of Allah, what are those things which provoke cursing? He said: Easing on the thoroughfares (public roads) or under the shades (where they take shelter and rest). [Sahih Muslim]

Also in Sahih Muslim it is reported from the Prophet:

Faith has over seventy branches or over sixty branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that there is no god but Allah, and the humblest of which is the, removal of what is injurious from the path: and modesty is the branch of faith. [Sahih Muslim]

The Prophet (ﷺ) also said: A man never did a good deed but removed a thorny branch from the road; it was either in the tree and someone cut it and threw it on the road, or it was lying in it, he removed it. Allah accepted this good deed of his and brought him into Paradise. [Abu Dawud]

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